You’ll Have To Forgive Me

Benny the Brave in the desert

I am finding it impossible to report on our doings at all, and the other day I realized why.  I was marking down an appointment towards the end of January in my calendar, and as I looked down at the month of January, I saw that we had been in Albequerque on the 3rd.

Albequerque!  Then Flagstaff, Arizona.  The Grand Canyon. Phoenix. Los Angeles. Santa Cruz Mountains. San Francisco. San Jose. Sausalito. Nevada City. Tomorrow Sacramento.

It seems like ages ago we were in Albequerque, but it’s only been weeks.  When we travel, we have so many new experiences, and see so many new and remarkable sights, that we’re fooled into thinking it’s been a year.  Our minds aren’t used to so many different things happening in such quick succession.

So, a lot is happening.  And every single day, whether we’re spending the day at the Grand Canyon or a city park, we are feeding, clothing, unclothing, reclothing, preparing food for, feeding, pottying, diapering, handwashing the dishes for, handwashing the laundry for, tooth brushing, hairbrushing, reading to, soothing, feeding, shopping for, storing the leftovers from, cleaning up after, singing lullabyes to, and feeding the seven year old, two year old, and nine month old.
There are no breaks.  We’re lucky to get ourselves fed, dressed, and brushed.  We’re lucky to get a few hours sleep between coaxing the last one to sleep and rising with the first one to wake.

And a walk down the block takes twenty times as long as it does for a couple without kids so all of our trips are day-long.  And at least some portion of each trip will involve the kicking and screaming of one who doesn’t want to stay off the wall, out of the glass shop, or generally head in the same direction as the rest of us, so a lot of the time we spend doing the other things is also spent exercising amazing patience and deep depths of unconditional love.

And every trip requires the packing of diapers for two, wipes and a wet bag, water for all, snacks for three, spare coats/gloves/pants/hats/shoes.  And this packing must occur while feeding, pottying, diapering, handwashing the dishes for, handwashing the laundry for, tooth brushing, hairbrushing, reading to, soothing, feeding, shopping for, storing the leftovers from, cleaning up after, singing lullabyes to, and feeding the seven year old, two year old, and nine month old.

Did I mention that we are also executing a musical tour, finding time to rehearse, sending out press releases, and scheduling other bands; while simultaneously running an internet business, answering daily customer communications, taking orders, mailing products, and hosting a busy Facebook page?

I have such dreams and plans.  There is much I want to create and accomplish.

But, new plan.  Survive right now.

Take pictures when possible and blog later.

In the meantime, will you join me on a new Facebook page for our travels?  I’d love to develop Free Range Dreams into a community of people encouraging and supporting each other, sharing resources and stories, each becoming stronger by being surrounded by other dreamers who are working towards dreams . . . but as per the above, I’m going to stick with the real small and impress myself by just posting daily photos and updates on my family and our status re: exploring this great wide country!

Free Range Dreams on Facebook

Big Family; Small (motor)Home

Baby sleeping in baby hammock in motorhome.

We just put up the cloth cradle we’ve intended to use from the beginning.  It’s a baby hammock, designed to be baby’s bed, and my wonderful husband hung it over our bed in Benny so that now, it is possible to put Cassidy (6 months) in the hammock, and then (until Annabelle–22 months–joins us sometime in the night) the mommy and the daddy can be alone in the bed.  The luxury of having no one but the two of us in our full size bed cannot be overstated.  We can both lay flat on our backs if we want to, without our shoulders overlapping!

Sometimes when Annabelle creeps into our bed in the middle of the night, David will switch ends of the bed so that he and Annabelle have their heads at the foot of the bed, and their feet (David’s more than Annabelle’s) next to my head.  This helps because feet are narrower than shoulders.

When Cassidy wakes in the night, I bring him down into the bed with me to nurse.  Since the hammock is just two feet above our bed, I barely have to sit up to accomplish this.  When he’s done nursing I either do nothing because I am asleep, or I can put him back in the hammock and enjoy the more room in the bed.

There is an entire other bed that Ada too often gets completely to herself while the rest of us play puzzle pieces in our bed.  The table and benches convert into a bed that the girls share–Ada at one end, and Annabelle at the other.  I guess I should be grateful that Ada stays in that one, at least!

Baby in Baby Hammock above bed.

Give Me Spots on My Apples, but Leave Me the Birds and the Bees…Please!

Photobucket

I tend to let my children go out and adventure without hovering, and moreso with each child. A few weeks ago when her sister was chasing her over the sidewalk, Annabelle had a terrible spill and scraped up her lovely face: nose, lips, and chin all lost the top layer of skin and generated tiny beads of blood for a few days.

But it wasn’t because I wasn’t standing close by on the monkey bars, or standing preventatively below the opening in the jungle gym. It wasn’t because I let her climb fences, balance on curbs, or walk on walls. It was just simple running on the safe, flat ground.

So in a way, this accident reassured me that I wasn’t a neglectful mom. Because I can’t prevent injury and literal defacement. I can make sure she doesn’t fall off the swing by forbidding her from riding on swings, but I can’t prevent her from falling at all, so what’s the point?

It is my firm belief that it is more important for kids to have freedom than to be kept safe. It is from freedom that they will cultivate an ability to keep themselves safe, whereas the other method would leave them unprepared for the world, and worse, might convince them that they are delicate.

And isn’t that sort of the same lesson that led our family on the road in the first place? Weighing safety and reliability against freedom, freedom won. And what happens when you rely too heavily on the predictability of a weekly or monthly salary and then the sidewalk comes up and smacks you anyway, in the form of layoffs, or unexpected medical bills and you still have all those credit card bills and a home equity line? Mightn’t it be safer to plan on unpredictability? Mightn’t it be better to run on the sidewalk and get a hug with every inevitable tumble?

*This post was actually written a few months ago but I just found the picture to go with it :)*

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon

Annabelle brings this book to me and makes her request noise, “Dee? Dee?”

“In the great green room there was a telephone, and a red balloon…”

And her face lights up and she swings her short legs with excitement.

We have several good books which she loves, but we could read nothing but this one and she would be happy.  This is handy, since the RV doesn’t have a bookshelf, and we won’t have a library card.

Beyond convenience, these little moments remind me that everything we need will be coming with us: Goodnight Moon, our family, and time together.

Toddler reading

Cloth Diapers On the Road

Question: are you crazy to move into a 22 foot motorhome with cloth diapers for two and no washer/dryer?!

Answer: yes

But here’s the plan: First, I am switching to flat diapers in preparation for our newborn-to-be.

flat diaper vrs fitted diaper
Flat diaper, compared to a fitted diaper that we have been using.

I love flat diapers for several reasons:

  • they are super cheap
  • they take up very little room
  • they are a cinch to wash
  • they dry if you look at them hard
  • they are one-size-fits-all
  • they are old-fashioned

It will be easy to wash wet diapers in the sink or at a campground and hang dry them inside of an hour to use again.  In this way, we will not get too desperate for a laundromat.

Both babies will use the same diapers so there will be no need to store them separately.

Storage space will be much less than with fluffy prefolds, fitteds, pockets, or all-in-one diapers.

Many, many flat diapers will fit into the zippered hanging wetbag that will be our diaper pail.

We use only wool covers, which are re-used again and again without washing due to wool’s amazing properties.  When they do need to be washed, I will hand wash them in the sink/a bucket/the tub.

Concerned that I am using a public laundry facility to wash cloth diapers?  I am too, a little.  Baby bottoms are so pure and sensitive, and it is important to me that only clean cotton be used to cover bottoms and genitals–that’s one reason why we cloth diaper in the first place!

So, while I have no worries about the cleanliness of my diaper washing routine (the diapers come out perfectly sanitary and so do the machines), I am used to having my own washer and not having to worry about the cleanliness of the other users!

I plan to use vinegar in each wash as a disinfectant against what might be lurking in the machine.  I will use baking soda as a deodorant in hopes that it will counteract any residual scented detergent.   And I will take comfort in knowing that flat diapers are so thin that they do not hold onto bacteria or chemicals, but wash out very thoroughly.

I will dry on high heat as an extra precaution, nonetheless.  Flat diapers can take that kind of treatment.

Toddler wearing a flat diaper with snappi.
So cute in cloth!
Rear view of the flat diaper.
Rear view of the flat diaper.

Apollo Beach and Lithia Springs Park

Lithia Springs Park
Lithia Springs Park (Hillsborough County Park)

Yes, it’s taken us a month to get away for our first weekend in Benny!

This was our first time really using Benny as a home.  We’ve turned on the lights now and then, and the toilet’s been used several times in my weekday activities with two kids.  But we really needed to get away and use all the systems in order to learn how to use them.

We started out with a trip to Apollo Beach to see the manatees that hang out in the warm waters of the TECO plant during the winter months:

TECO smokestacks
TECO smokestacks--surprisingly aesthetic on this beautiful day
TECO solar panels
Part of Tampa Electric's largest solar panel array.

manatees at Apollo Beach
Millions of Manatees!
TECO manatees
Us girls in front of the manatee viewing.
David and Ada at the manatee viewing
David and Ada at the manatee viewing

happy passengers
Happy Passengers

Florida Mesa
I didn't know we had mesas in Florida?

Then we drove to a county park to spend the night:

hooked up motorhome
Benny hooked up to a campground for the first time.

Lithia Springs Park trail
Exploring the Park

Lithia Springs Park Trail
Exploring the Park

Family at Lithia Springs Park
I LOVE THIS MAN!

He made my weekend.  He did all of the man stuff–propane, hookups, driving, navigating–and most of my half of the work too–carrying children, cooking dinner, washing dishes, reading stories, sweeping, etc.  I got a much needed break, even though he probably needed one just as much.  David, you are my valentine 😉

At dusk we were back at the campsite:

Hooking Up the Water Hose
Ada helped David hook us up to the campground water.

one year old eating watermelon
We enjoyed some watermelon.
dinner in motorhome
David made dinner (our first time cooking in the RV).
Dinette Bed
We made the dinette into Ada's bed for the first time.
motorhome bed
Our Cozy Bed in the Morning Sunlight
Toddler Walk
Setting Out on a Morning Walk

walking

Waldorf Doll
Ada takes such good care of her littlest sister!
Lithia Spring
Natural Warm Spring is 76 degrees, year round.

Lithia Spring
Not warm enough on this chilly morning!
girls behind fence
Poor Caged Children

My favorite part of our short stint living in the RV was how easy it was to focus.  Instead of going looking for Ada to come brush her teeth in the morning, potentially getting sidetracked by an emergency diaper change or potty trip, a spilled cup of water, the ringing phone, and Annabelle’s finally being unable to wait to nurse any longer . . . instead of all that, I just said, “Ada, come here–let’s brush our teeth.”  And there she was.  And while we were there, I brushed my hair and hers.  Then we prepared breakfast, and cleaned up breakfast.  And keeping an eye on the children was built in because they were RIGHT THERE interacting with us.

One thing at a time.  Easy peasy.

In a moment of too much honesty, I will report that mine and Ada’s hair don’t necessarily get brushed every day because the children get hungry and I have to start cooking, then we’re late for wherever we’re supposed to be first, and I haven’t sliced apples and prepared other snacks to bring with us, and Annabelle needs to be redirected away from the oven, and someone gets hurt and needs comforting (even though I need to be stirring the scrambled eggs), and on, and on.

Having all of our family activities in 176 sq ft (and that includes beds, cabinets, engines and drivers seats), brought a level of simplicity (although it reeked slightly of randomity) that I appreciated.

Ada with Winnebago
Ada and Benny